Cheltenham Grade One races trends – Trend picks at the Festival
Brian Healy looks over the remaining Cheltenham Grade One races trends and picks out four horses who could run big races according to the stats in the Triumph Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, Mares’ Hurdle and Champion Bumper.
In addition to the three novice championships over both hurdles and fences which go to post across the four days of the Cheltenham Festival, and also the main Championship races – the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Gold Cup – there are four more Grade One contests taking place at the ‘greatest show on turf’ to bring the grand total of Grade One contests at the Festival to 14 – 50% of the total number of races that will unfold.
The Mares’ Hurdle goes to post on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, while on day two the Champion Bumper brings the curtain down on the day’s action.
The Ryanair Chase offers some classy support to the three other Grade Ones on the Thursday racecard; while the Triumph Hurdle kicks off proceedings on the final day of the Festival.
CHELTENHAM GRADE ONE RACES TRENDS – FESTIVAL TREND PICKS
MARES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
Taking place during the first day, the Mares’ Hurdle is a race that has largely been run for Willie Mullins’ benefit with the County Carlow trainer winning all but three renewals of the race. He would have won twelve months ago but for a final flight fall of defending champion Benie Des Dieux who may return in a bid to regain her crown.
TOP 10 MARES’ HURDLE TRENDS
12/12 winners went off no bigger than 12/1 in the betting.
12/12 winners had finished every race prior to Cheltenham.
12/12 winners had won at least one of their last three starts.
12/12 winners were bred outside of Great Britain.
12/12 winners didn’t compete in a handicap last time out.
11/12 winners were rated 140 or higher.
11/12 winners had placed in a Grade 2 race or better.
11/12 winners had two or more wins under the intended jockey.
11/12 winners had previously won over two miles four furlongs or further.
11/12 winners had at least five prior runs over hurdles.
Cheltenham form is important in the Mares’ Hurdle with seven of the past 12 winners having had at least one run at the track with five boasting winning form. Highly-rated horses are also worth siding with with nine of the last twelve winners having a rating higher than 150.
If Benie Des Dieux does return in this race – she also holds a Stayers’ Hurdle entry – she’ll face down the exciting and unbeaten Honeysuckle of Henry de Bromhead and there’s little to separate the pair on the trends.
Given her record in the race and having won it already, BENIE DES DIEUX (8/11, Betway) gets the trends verdict despite falling twelve months ago and the Great Pretender mare has to defy that negative, while only Quevega has won the race as an older horse.
Four of the last five winners have been seven-years old, and only Quevega won the race as a six-year old so Honeysuckle has that negative alongside not having run here before.
The pair look well clear of the rest however, including the eventual 2019 winner Roksana who has been beaten on all three starts this term and the top Irish pair are likely to come to the fore to battle it out.
CHAMPION BUMPER CHELTENHAM TRENDS
Another Cheltenham Festival race where Willie Mullins has a solid record and the County Carlow handler has won the Champion Bumper race nine times in all, latterly with Relegate in 2018.
Irish trainers have also dominated this race, winning six of the last ten renewals. Gordon Elliott has won two of the last three.
TOP 10 CHAMPION BUMPER TRENDS
24/27 winners were aged 5 or 6.
20/27 winners were Irish-trained.
20/20 winners were no bigger than 50/1 in the horse racing betting.
20/20 winners had their final prep run away from any of Ascot, Doncaster, Gowran Park, Sandown or Warwick.
19/20 winners were priced at 8/1 or shorter last time out.
19/20 winners had previously won over two miles or further.
18/20 winners ran off at least 11-4 last time out.
18/20 won their final race before Cheltenham.
18/20 winners ran over two miles or further last time out.
17/20 winners ran over two miles on debut.
Five of the last twelve winners came from the top three in the betting; but only two of those twelve were winning favourites which goes against ante-post favourite Appreciate It. However, he sets a stiff standard having ran away with a Grade Two bumper when last seen and he ticks plenty of Cheltenham Grade One races trends for this particular contest.
Mullins however has a solid second string in FERNY HOLLOW (8/1, Bet365) who also ticks plenty of boxes on the trends and the Westerner gelding could serve it up to his stablemate despite needing to improve on the balance of his form.
He had been beaten on his first two starts in bumpers at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown; but he raised his game in no uncertain terms when fitted with a hood to deliver a defeat of the well-regarded On Eagles Wings.
The stablemates both make plenty of appeal on the trends, but Ferny Hollow looks the value option and ought to be involved.
RYANAIR CHASE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
One of the most fiercely contested races over the four days, the Ryanair Chase never fails to disappoint and the latest renewal will prove no exception. A race over an intermediate distance for horses perhaps too slow for the Champion Chase but suspect stayers over the Gold Cup trip there’ll be plenty of interest again in this Grade One contest.
Paul Nicholls has won this race three times, including twelve months ago with Frodon; while Ruby Walsh has won two of the last four renewals.
Irish-based runners have won just three of 15 renewals of the Ryanair Chase which could prove a big Cheltenham Grade One races trends negative.
TOP 10 RYANAIR CHASE TRENDS
15/15 winners went off no bigger than 16/1 in the betting.
15/15 winners had raced no more than twice in the three months prior to Cheltenham.
15/15 winners had won previously with their intended jockey onboard.
15/15 winners had made at least two previous starts with the same jockey onboard.
14/15 winners scored their last win at an English racecourse.
14/15 winners last ran in a field of six or more runners.
14/15 winners had raced at least three times in Class 1 company.
14/15 winners had previously raced at least twice at Cheltenham.
13/15 winners had made between two and four starts that season.
13/15 winners had previously won over two miles five furlongs.
Pay attention to runners’ ages as 10 of the last twelve winners were aged 7-9; while 11 of the last twelve winners boasted a rating of 161 or higher. The Ascot Chase is a decent pointer to this contest with three of the last twelve winners of the Ryanair Chase taking in that contest prior to Cheltenham where two have won.
Five of the last seven winners of the Ryanair Chase were aged seven and having taken in the Ascot Chase latest it might be worth taking the Ascot Chase angle and siding with RIDERS ONTHE STORM (8/1, William Hill) who has gone from strength to strength since joining Nigel Twiston-Davies.
A faller behind A Plus Tard in last season’s Close Brothers’ Chase, he possibly still felt the effects at Fairyhouse prior to his move to his current yard. The Scorpion gelding is 3-3 this term, scoring at Aintree and twice at Ascot, latterly winning the Grade One Ascot Chase.
He does have a couple of trends to defy; he only beat three rivals last time and was possibly fortunate in any case; while he’s only had one previous run here. But he’s made starts over the trip and he’s the right age as a seven-year old given their recent record in the race.
Improvement is probably needed, but he had loooked progressive in Ireland prior to his fall here twelve months ago and he should continue to give a good account.
TRIUMPH HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
The opening race of the final day at the Cheltenham Festival, the juveniles’ championship is usually a blood-and-thunder affair with a big field of young horses. Nicky Henderson has a great record in the race with almost 1 in 3 of his runners making the frame; while the Seven Barrows trainer has won the race seven times, most recently with Pentland Hills twelve months ago.
Willie Mullins has just one victory to his name in the race despite four of the last seven winners coming from Ireland. Philip Hobbs’ runners meanwhile are also worth watching with the trainer boasting three victories.
TOP 10 TRIUMPH HURDLE TRENDS
20/20 winners were running after a break of between 15 and 60 days.
20/20 winners had ran over the Triumph Hurdle trip more than once.
20/20 winners had finished in the first four last time out.
20/20 winners had between one and three starts in the three months prior to Cheltenham.
20/20 winners had never fallen prior to winning the Triumph.
19/20 winners returned no bigger than 20/1 in the betting.
19/20 winners had won at least one of their previous three races prior to Cheltenham.
19/20 winners raced in a field of less than 13 runners last time out.
19/20 winners had won at least one race that season.
19/20 had previously won over hurdles before winning the Triumph.
Cheltenham course form isn’t important in the Triumph Hurdle with only two of the last 12 winners having had a previous run at the track. It might also be a good idea to stick with a runner which has an official rating of 139+ as nine of the last 12 winners carried that rating or higher; the other three winners in that time didn’t have an official rating.
This is likely to be run at a decent pace with Allmankind and Goshen both likely to get on with things early. That might set the race up for a finisher such as Solo who was impressive when winning at Kempton in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.
Kempton and Cheltenham are like chalk and cheese however, and Aspire Tower’s fall last time out is a negative to that one’s chances. The big four all have negatives to overcome at the trends, but all go to Cheltenham with solid claims.
It might be worth siding then with the improving GOSHEN (4/1, William Hill) who is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles for Gary Moore which include a bloodless success at Ascot when last seen in January. The Authorized gelding ran out an eleven lengths’ victor over Nordano who has since hacked up in a subsequent outing.
The fourth horse home in that race has also won and he was a useful sort on the level where he reached a mark of 80. On flat form he has a bit to find with Allmankind, but his last win was all the more impressive given he lost both front shoes in the heavy ground.
There’s likely plenty more to come from him and he should post a big effort.